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Court: Jared Loughner can refuse anti-psychotic medication

By Scott Thompson, CNN
Lawyers representing Jared Loughner contend that forcing him to take drugs against his will violates his rights.
Lawyers representing Jared Loughner contend that forcing him to take drugs against his will violates his rights.
  • Jared Lee Loughner no longer has to take anti-psychotic medication, a court says
  • The defendant has also been diagnosed as schizophrenic, prosecutors say
  • Loughner's attorneys say forcing him to take strong drugs violates his rights
  • Loughner is accused of shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others

(CNN) -- A three-judge federal appeals panel has ruled that Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner can refuse anti-psychotic medication.

Tuesday's ruling comes days after the court said it would review an appeal by attorneys for the government who argued the alleged gunman should be forced to take anti-psychotic drugs for his behavior.

The federal appeals court last week temporarily halted the forced medication.

"Since Loughner has not been convicted of a crime, he is presumptively innocent and is therefore entitled to greater constitutional protections than a convicted inmate," court documents said.

"While both interests are significant, we conclude that preserving the dignity and bodily integrity of an individual who has not been convicted of a crime is the stronger interest, especially when the government has demonstrated that it is able to prevent that individual from harming himself or others."

May: Loughner unfit to stand trial

Loughner is being held in a federal mental hospital after an earlier court ruling found him incompetent to stand trial. The hospital's medical staff began forcing him to take psychotropic medication after it deemed him to be a danger to himself and others.

He is charged with killing six people -- including the chief federal judge of Arizona, John Roll -- in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8. Among the 13 people wounded was U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, who was shot in the head.

On May 25, a judge found Loughner incompetent to stand trial and committed him to federal custody for hospitalization at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where the staff will determine whether Loughner will become competent in the foreseeable future and, if so, oversee his mental restoration.

CNN's Scott Thompson contributed to this report.